The First to open branch bank in Bangor

The third largest Maine-based bank, The First, is moving into the Bangor market, marking the bank's first expansion in more than a decade. The First bought the former Camden National Bank branch on Exchange Street and plans to move in by the end of February.
The third largest Maine-based bank, The First, is moving into the Bangor market, marking the bank's first expansion in more than a decade. The First bought the former Camden National Bank branch on Exchange Street and plans to move in by the end of February. Buy Photo
Posted Jan. 15, 2013, at 4:20 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 15, 2013, at 7:07 p.m.

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DAMARISCOTTA, Maine — Bangor residents will soon have a new option when it comes to banking. The First, the third-largest Maine-based bank in the state, will move into the former Camden National Bank branch on Exchange Street.

The First Bancorp, The First’s parent company, purchased the branch at 145 Exchange St. from Camden National on Oct. 26, 2012, according to The First CEO Dan Daigneault. The space is currently being renovated with a grand opening scheduled for the end of February, he told the Bangor Daily News on Tuesday.

Daigneault said the bank will hire between eight and 10 people to staff the new full-service branch.

The First, which is based in Damariscotta, has 15 branches along Maine’s coast from Wiscasset to Calais. This will be the first branch the bank has inland from the coast, Daigneault said.

“We’ve seen Bangor for the last two years, and Penobscot County, as a good opportunity to go into a semi-metropolitan area to diversify the client base we have and take advantage of the growth in the Bangor market,” Daigneault said. “The opportunity to buy this existing location from Camden National provided us with a quick and easy entrance into the market.”

Moving into the Bangor market is a big step for the company. The last new branch The First has opened was in Rockland in 2001, Daigneault said, and even in that case the bank already had branches in Rockport and Camden, so it wasn’t an entirely new area.

“But to go all the way to Bangor, a totally new market, with a totally de novo approach is somewhat of a bold step on our part,” Daigneault said.

The Bangor market, which is essentially Penobscot County, is competitive, with 10 banks, both national and local, currently competing for customers and their more than $2 billion in deposits as of June 30, 2012, according to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Bangor Savings Bank is top dog with $866 million in deposits, or 39.1 percent of the market, followed by TD Bank and Peoples United Bank. The Maine-based bank with the largest presence in Bangor behind Bangor Savings is Katahdin Trust Co., which has nearly $200 million in deposits in the market, or 8.8 percent of the market’s total deposits.

“We feel we compete very well in the other markets and feel we can do as well in the Bangor market,” Daigneault said.

Daigneault said banks usually expect to lose money for at least the first two years after entering a new market. He said his personal goal is to have The First represent 5 percent of the market in deposits in three years. Measuring against current market data, that would mean The First would need to attract more than $100 million in deposits in the first three years.

“That’s a little bit aggressive, but I think it’s reasonable,” he said. “We feel good about it and feel good about the prospects of success and are certainly excited about being part of the Bangor community.”

The First is the third-largest bank headquartered in Maine, with slightly more than $1 billion in deposits as of June 30, 2012, according to FDIC data. The only bigger Maine-based banks are Bangor Savings Bank, with more than $2 billion in deposits, and Camden National Bank, with $1.6 billion in deposits, according to FDIC data.

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